Since September I've been working as an intern at WaterAid. The international non-governmental organisation focuses on water, sanitation, and hygiene to deprived civilizations. WaterAid works closely with its partners in local communities to utilize low cost technologies to deliver sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene solutions to the underprivileged in the economically less developed countries. WaterAid's vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Having been introduced to the organisation in the 2018 PP unit I was intrigued by the business' ambitions and wanted to get involved. Before the internship opportunity was available, I was part of a small group of illustrators who designed work for an event WaterAid held at Glastonbury. Held in the appropriately named "Looovre" toilet exhibition, artists were tasked to reimagine famous works of art being denied access to basic sanitation.
Upon starting at WaterAid I was surprised at how small the Brand + Editorial team was. Consisting of only five members, David Stedman (Brand and Editorial Lead), Charmaine Morris (Brand and Editorial Manager), Larisa Gribben (Brand Officer), Steve Shaw (Editor - Fundraising), Ella Lines (Editor – Policy, Practice and Advocacy) and only one in house designer Helen Davis (Senior Designer). Considering the size of the global organisation I was stunned in finding there was only 1 in house designer?
The majority of my work at WaterAid has been supporting the team in utilising the new branding supplied by The Chase Creative Consulting a couple of years ago. The branding guidelines delivered are an extensive 291 page document. Over the past few months I've familiarised myself to the details I'm required to know as an in house designer and it's been a great opportunity to be in a role where I'm expected to have this knowledge. I've needed this knowledge to aid the company in understanding how to use the brand since it's introduction there has been particular resistance to using it correctly. A narrative I'm told that isn't uncommon in companies going through a rebranding.
The work I have been a part of in WaterAid has varied. Though the work has primarily been to generate visuals for the communications/media teams that fit the branding guidelines there has been an opportunity to observe and contribute any additional jobs I thought would be relevant. Since the design team has only had one inhouse designer in the past year and her time is completely consumed with working on the big inhouse projects like the annual reports, I offered up my organisational skills to help out with any housekeeping work that might need doing. Over the past year or so the company has been accumulating icon designs and decided to do an icon audit to narrow down the collection to 80 verified assets. I was set the task of organising, perfecting and exporting all 80 icons into PNG and EPS files in 24 of the branding's colours. A total of 3840 icon files. A daund=ting task but I do get a slight tingle of satisfaction knowing that I've tidied that up and helped improve the working file for the team.
Now that my Internship is coming to an end and the workload is slowing down before Christmas I'm having some time to reflect on my time here and think about what I'd like to achieve next year. I feel I've learned a lot about myself and the roles that I can fit into with my skill set and am quietly confident in pursuing a design role in branding or editorial department. That being said I have missed the creativity and exploration of illustration!
While doing my internship at WaterAid I'd been working on a few freelancing jobs in my spare time for a bit of extra cash and a brief came through ArtsTemps for illustrators. It was sent from Vicky Creekey who is the E-commerce + Marketing Manager for UAL's Careers and Employability. The purpose of the series of illustrations was to:
The series of illustrations would follow different themes and the one that was chosen for me was "Creative Business". Other themes were making a living doing what you love/working as a freelancer/money/find a job/ slasher careers/ mentoring/ networking/ designer maker/ side hustle/ leadership. I got busy drafting up and an initial idea of a style and colour palette. After getting a swift approval from Vicky I completed the job in around a week. It was such a smooth and enjoyable process with an outcome I'm proud to use in my portfolio. It got me thinking how much I've missed illustrating!
A couple of weeks ago was the London Illustration Fair. A fun packed festival of art, craft, creativity and visual culture. Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf played host to the three-day illustration extravaganza with five floors of artwork, prints, workshops talks and more from some of the world’s top artists and designers.
The artist-led illustration, print and graphic design fair, bringing artists and buyers together in a unique environment. The fair offers the chance for illustration lovers to come face to face with their favourite artists and discover amazing new artwork from emerging illustrators. It's my second year in a row visiting the fair and find it such a pool of creativity and inspiration. I had originally intended to take part in this year's collection however, my priorities and time were consumed with the internship. Visiting the fair this year has reasserted my ambitions to become an established illustrator designer.
With this decision made I'm now looking at how I structure next year. I'm still interested in doing internships but only for a small design agency that does a variety of work. While doing that I will be focussing on any opportunities that I can push my style and accumulate a stronger design brand and aesthetic.
Internship at LOCAL
I’ve been interning at a design studio in Mumbai called LOCAL for the past month. Their work is situated within the realm of branding but the studio founder has plans for the studio to create a new branch: a more experimental design lab, called LOCAL Labs, which we are currently planning the launch of. The aim of LOCAL Labs is to open up the dialogue around Indian graphic design through research and collaborations. My role in this project is to plan an exhibition to coincide with the launch. I’m having to consider the overall theme of the exhibition, what kind of work should be included and how it would be curated. As someone not from India, I feel like I’m viewing graphic design through an entirely new lens. This is exactly what I hoped to experience during DPS, to step outside of the Western bubble to explore the role of graphic design in other cultures and contexts. India is currently the fastest growing country in the world and over half the population is under 25, so it feels like a very exciting time to be working in design here!
Aside from LOCAL Labs, I’ve been working on:
I’m enjoying being part of a small team (there’s four of us) as I feel like I’m being exposed to all aspects of the design process. This isn’t always the positive stuff; last week one of the designers had some big issues with a print project and LOCAL had to bear the costs of the mistake. But on the flip side, I feel like I’m contributing in a meaningful way to a young studio. One thing which has surprised me is how quickly work can be done in a professional setting and decisions can be made. Last week, a client came to us needing a logo within five days. The deadline seemed very tight but we pulled together as a team and had eight options to present by the end of the week. It got me thinking about how I usually spend far too much time in the first stages of a project, waiting for the perfect idea, before I get going. I want to take with me the ability to quickly create multiple options in the first phase of a brief and then the confidence to move forward, irrespective of how much I love an idea. It’s better to just get started!
Aside from what I’m learning at my internship, working in India has thrust me head first into the realities of the country’s very prevalent social and economic inequalities. As I go about my day, I am constantly being confronted with examples of these inequalities. I can’t help but wonder, how can design be used to imagine new futures for India? These encounters have made me realise that I’m interested in how design can be used to bring about positive social change.
Eye Myth Festival
Last weekend, I attended Eye Myth Media Arts Festival in Mumbai. The day involved talks and workshops within the space of future forecasting, speculative design, design narratives and design fiction. I don’t have experience in any of these practises but as I’m interested in designing for the future, I thought it would be interesting to attend. The festival was organised by an interdisciplinary studio called Quicksand. One of its founders, Avinash Kumar, spoke about the power of speculative design to propose alternative realities, which can in turn help to address real world challenges.
Avinash said a few things which particularly stuck out to me:
- “Speculative design is to combine critical thinking with imagination and play”
- “In the context of living in India, everyone has to be responsible. Thinking about the future in an interesting, collaborative manner”
- “We envision scenarios that make daily life better”
- “The West doesn’t represent the future and India doesn’t represent the past”
- “Speculative design can create safe spaces for people from all genders and backgrounds to imagine different futures”
- “It feels like we’re being handed these shiny packages from the rest of the globe about what to do and how we should do it, but we’re trying to open up the discourse within India”
I learned that speculative design can be used in scenarios where conversation is quite difficult. Designers and collaborators can imagine anything from new tools and objects, to systems and spaces. You can then work backwards to see how these possibilities can be implemented into current day life. I took part in two group workshops, one about the future of food culture, led by Edible Issues, and one about a possible future society between 2020 and 2040, led by the architect Ayaz Basrai. I found the tasks quite challenging in the beginning as I’m new to the concept of speculative design, but as the workshops went on, I felt like I was getting a better feel for what it was about. The festival gave me some interesting topics to think about and I'd like to explore the topic of speculative design further. I'm also researching design studios in Europe with a social stance for my next internship.
Gabriela (Gaby) Kozlowska
Graphics Branding & Identity
Flash back: November 2018, I’m sitting in one of the professional practices session, starting into the far distance, totally zoned out, thinking of every reason why and how DPS will be the best thing for me to do. Fast forward exactly a year, I’m on DPS, totally zoned out thinking how everything I’m doing its not how it’s supposed to be, nothing is working out and everything I am doing is just ‘not enough’. But it’’s all a learning process and it’s ok. There is no set way to go through this year, and we all going to go through it in our own way, and that’s what I have to accept and learn. Now here is how the year has been so far.
Starting DPS as a freelance designer, I have learned a valuable lesson, that it’s way harder than it looks, because you will never have 100% guarantee that what you working on will be successful or when the next project is going to come through. The main thing with freelance is that you are your own boss, and you set your goals, deadlines and have to make yourself go to work, which can be hard when you physically or mentally can’t push yourself to do it. The journey has started very much on an uphill, beginning with a very exciting freelance job, which was to design an app for a new brand and I would have been part of the design team full time. However, the brand has decided to pull out, and therefore my job was terminated. Followed by further failed freelance jobs, I have became very much discouraged by the idea of freelance and it started to feel like a waste of time. As an individual who likes having a lot to do, I need a 9-5 or some sort of structure, so I’m not 100% sure freelance is for me for the long run. I’m glad I gave it a shot, and I’m more then happy to do it on the side, but I’m definitely an agency/office kind of person. Maybe one day I will be able to what ever I want, but for now, I need someone to look over my shoulder.
Feeling like I’ve waisted so much time basically doing nothing, I started to thinking ahead to my thesis. I have started to look into the books and other resources which can help with my final question. The main topic of the paper will be branding (shocking, I know) but it is truly what I am mostly involved with but also what I find so complex and worth writing about. Because I have send so much time studying it, I feel like there’s so much that can be talked about, like the process of branding, what we classify as a brand these days, rebranding, self branding and many other things.
Having touched on the topic in many, if not all of my previous essay on the different elements and areas of branding, for the thesis i’d like to combine it all and together into one big reflection, on what branding is, was and how it has changed with time. It might sound a little vague, but the one main interest of mine, is the current perception of what ‘branding’ really has become. The idea that we no longer buy products, but services, life styles and we are afraid of betraying the brand we are ‘loyal’ to. The fact that we can self brand and rebrand but also how important the customer relation is to branding.
At the end of year 2, I have written my thesis proposal, in which I stated that the focus of my question will be the way branding in relation to youtube and how they have became the same thing. My focus has changed slightly, considering that there’s so much I’d like to cover, from the beginning of braiding through to what we know it to be and now the rebranding or branding. The starting point for me are the two books called ‘Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits’ by Debbie Millman as well as ‘On Brand’ by Wally Olins. They are very much staples for my paper and I believe will also influence the final question that my paper will have.
Currently I have started to work on a self initiated project with a fellow DPS friend, and we are working on a rebranding of a magazine/platform Vagina-nomics. We are working on both the design work and the new ethos and language, to expand the target audience of the platform and change the narrative of the brand. Besides this, I’m also thinking of another self initiated project, which I would be focusing on more next term, which would be much more on the topic of self branding.
The beginning part of the DPS year has been a learning curve, and I have learned and discovered a lot about myself, my work as well as the way I can and can not work. The whole year for me is a learning experience and I’m glad it isn’t just a given one year internship. A lot of people find it hard to understand what my placement year is, how it works and often say “why don’t they just give it to you”, but that’s not what real life is like. Nobody is going to go around giving you things and this really is a life lesson, with a lot of support and help. We all have a different DPS experiences and we get to share them and learn from one another, and we will return into the 3rd/4th year with much more resilience and much thicker skin. While going through a rough phase, a friend of mine said that this is me stressing and crying ahead of year three so that when it gets to the end, I will be much calmer and less stressed and I feel like if I can do this, I can do anything.
Graphic Branding & Identity
Design when connected through technology can enhance and strengthen the importance of issues that need to be communicated. Possessing the ability to communicate these issues through visuals is what I class to be the definition of a designer. Studying an art foundation course taught me the importance of both print and technology within design. At this point in time, I was influenced largely by digital design, in particular brand identity. I knew that the Graphic Branding & Identity course at LCC was the only course I wanted to study. However, since having started the course I feel as if I missed out on learning and practicing the fundamentals of graphic design, which I had started to get a grasp of during my time on art foundation. Around this time last year I started questioning my choice, is branding what I want to pursue? Maybe another course was better suited to me? It’s safe to say that my university experience so far has been filled with confusion. Whilst I had these thoughts, it came clear to me that throughout my time as a designer I’ve only focused solely on brand identity. Over the last year, my style and interests within graphic design have shifted, I now find myself wanting to experiment with a whole new approach to my work. I’ve known since starting at LCC that I wanted to take on DPS and now its opened up the possibility for me to explore these different avenues within design. As much as I enjoy working on projects that involve mainly brand identity, I miss the freedom to work creatively in a sense of non-commercial design. Throughout this year, I plan to dabble in sides of design I haven’t before whilst incorporating projects I feel more comfortable skill wise, like brand identity.
The initial plan for my DPS year was to primarily work at a number of studios on placement, whilst incorporating some freelance and self-initiated work. My plan still takes a similar route now but on a different timeline to what I had planned. As for now, I have made slow progress finding placement. The studios I plan to work for are drastically different from what I proposed months ago. However, my aim is to work either in London or Brighton, as I’m based between the two. The amount of self-initiated work I planned has increased, this being as my style and approach has changed to many projects I’ve worked on during university. I want to focus on producing work for me that I connect with and reflects other elements of my life that I enjoy. This includes smaller projects based on recent trips and other hobbies of mine.
As for my ideas for a self-initiated project, I decided that I would take the branding route for my first project. This area within design is what I feel most comfortable designing and working towards, my current skills lie within branding and strategy. On my course I feel as if I haven’t had the opportunity to fully grasp the fundamentals within graphic design, one of these being typography. I’ve been researching different ways to approach branding and what I could possibly create an identity for. Deciding whether to rebrand an existing company or create my own start-up. The most promising idea I’ve had involves creating an identity for a bespoke cinema. This could potentially include a typeface designed by me, basic identity elements, website, posters and cocktail menu. Above I’ve included a rough initial design for a launch poster, promoting the cult classic ‘American Psycho’. Later possibly designing a series of these to promote a cult classic movie evening.
Another idea I had for a self-initiated project is inspired by a recent trip I took to Rhodes. After visiting and encountering a vast amount of history, I decided to collect material from these sites whilst documenting my experience. I wanted to create a series of visuals displaying the history, including written information I have gathered, and imagery taken by both me and found from other sources. Focussing on type, print and found matter as an attempt to delve into the traditional aspects within graphic design, whilst making sure to capture my experience. A project not similar to others I’ve worked on before, focussing on approaches to design I’ve been inspired by recently. Potentially taking this further by designing a book or zine to display the progress, history, material and including experimentations with layers and typography. My plan is to work on a longer self-initiated project and for me this idea isn’t going to achieve that. However, once i’ve completed the longer project I can come back to this idea.
Graphic & Media Design
I had a lot of doubts about starting my placement year for my degree, a lot of anxiety and pressure is suddenly put on you whilst completing your second year of studying; something I was searching for was stability, I knew I wanted to stay in London and the only way I’d guarantee a stable life living in the city would be to get a lengthy placement as oppose to doing freelance work and relying on that for income. My choice to do so has luckily turned out to be a blessing, I’m now 3 months into my internship at Royal Albartross and I couldn’t feel any better about the decision I made.
Being a Graphic Design student, there are so many different paths you could take for your career and it can be hard to determine which lane you want to ride in. For me, I knew I wanted to work with imagery and for a wide audience preferably a fashion brand or lifestyle brand of some sort, so when this opportunity came about, it was hard to refuse! And now working in that environment it feels like as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I’m enjoying it so much – it feels validating to know that I’m on the right path. I have developed a great bond with the team at RA that has allowed me to be able to collaborate and be hands on with the content we produce for the brand as I work closely with the CEO and content creator, whom I report directly to.
While doing the internship I have learnt some vital skills that I’ve always felt like I needed as a designer in this current age; being taught the basics in AfterEffects and Premiere Pro which allows me to work on using those programs to experiment and design captivating motion graphics that I never knew how to do before; Setting up a photography space to shoot our products, using lighting equipment and how to set up the camera; How to optimise images and videos to run smoothly on the web. These skills and so much more I will take forward with me as a designer once I finish my internship.
I have been practicing design from the age of about 10, way back in the day when the only design program I knew how to vaguely navigate was Corel Paint Shop Pro, from there on I have been teaching myself through trial and error and tutorials posted online, at that point in my life nearly every new skill I taught myself surrounding design would surprise me - the fact that if I could imagine it in my head, I knew there would be a way I could implement that onto the computer screen, this way of thinking has stuck with me throughout my life and has been a great way of battling any doubts I had on myself as a designer.
As I’ve gotten older and started to study Design at college and now at University, I’m surprised more about the depth that design carries – it was no longer something I just did in my spare time as a hobby, it had now become something so engraved into my system that I can see design wherever I go, whether that be posters splashed along the streets of London or a simple security notice in a coffee shop, design is everywhere and with every piece of printed design, there is a designer behind that who made those design choices for a reason to educate and advise a specific audience.
I was never aware of the different types of graphic design that held a specific name until I started my first year at University, studying subjects like Typography, the use of font and letter in design; Information Design, created to inform a specific audience; Spatial Design, creating an event space for a client; UX Design, designing a whole user interface from scratch; Design for Change, creating designs that help improve the life of a specific audience and many, many more.
There is something between all factors of design that connects them together and that is that you design with a target audience in mind. Since starting my placement for the DPS year, my role ensure that when I’m designing I should be doing so with the target audience in mind and the foundation of the brand that has kept them interested for the past 10 years – this may sound restricting but it teaches you how to be consistent within your design process and your ability to collaborate with other designers by knowing what works well for the brand, as most the time, you are the one creating the design and seeing the engagement with the audience.
Graphic and Media Design
Something I’ve realised recently is how much I love my generation for our individuality and boldness. We are also experimental, accepting and not afraid to challenge issues that need challenging. The prospect of young people being introduced to the design industry is so important and I am excited to be a part of it. This positive attitude young people have towards sustainability, responsibility and diversity being injected into the design industry will trigger positive change.
This week I started an internship in London at a company called Rare Design. They are a marketing company that work primarily on brand identities and packaging design. I have been working on designing packaging for one of their clients which has been hugely beneficial to me in terms of broadening my skills. My design style is contemporary and sometimes quite abstract so working on a commercial project like this has been a really good challenge for me. I have also improved a lot on my adobe illustrator skills which is something I wanted to achieve and continue to do. Other areas I have learnt about have been their work process and how they pitch projects to clients. I’ve learnt about brand guidelines and all the details that come with branding projects. It’s been really interesting working in a professional environment and I’m enjoying it a lot so far.
I have genuinely loved improving my commercial design skills and developing my professional persona but as a young designer I have also recognised I must keep developing my own individual design style. I want to keep adding to the younger generation of designer’s new and exciting take on design. As well as learning new digital skills I have continued using methods that I love like screen printing.
I aim to do a placement abroad if I can, as I know how beneficial this would be for me. I will experience new cultures and gather new stimulus, which will enhance my work. It’s healthy to be surrounded by different environments. It’s an effective way to soak up new information, change your perspectives and a refreshing way to learn. Throughout this year I will also continue tackling areas of my practice I am less confident in such as digital design and moving image. Despite being less confident in these fields I have been experimenting with Cinema 4D and After Effects and also realising more of my designs digitally. I love analogue design and it will always be a vital part of my process, but by introducing digital skills into my practice I will achieve; adaptability, in some cases better time efficiency and wider skills. Although I have recognised branching into digital design will benefit me, I also acknowledge the importance of analogue design. With the design world (and the world in general) becoming progressively digital, analogue design methods are dying. This way of working has so many great factors that cannot be replicated through digital design. To lose these would mean losing a fundamental part of design culture. I love the individuality and personality that comes with analogue photography and printmaking. The outcome has an organic and natural quality. There is a story and journey behind each one and it requires you to make bold and final decisions. You can’t delete something and start again or preview the final result. It encourages you to be confident and not overthink.
I will continue to be fuelled by the positivity of our generation and the celebration of individuality. So far this year, one of the main things I’ve learnt is how useful it is to be able to work professionally and adapt to the client but to also inject a bit of your character into your designs to make them unique. By developing an original style it reflects your enthusiasm for the field your in and also reflects who you are. I’m excited for the rest of the year and for the new opportunities that will come. I am also excited to keep on being inspired by so many young creatives and I’m keen to keep supporting the liberal attitude in order for positive change to take place.
Illustration and Visual Media
A bit before the start of DPS, in August, I moved to another city to take on an internship opportunity. It was an experience out of my comfort zone to go somewhere I never lived before, to work in a place I didn’t know at all. This placement was great experience to understand the routine of an advertising agency, how each area communicates with each other - from project management to copywriting and creation - to how each campaign is developed from briefing until final product. I was able to improve the level of proficiency in my work flow - considering the short deadlines I had to deal with-; and also reflected on the impacts of my work in the real world. This experience made me challenge the notions I had about advertising, design as a practice, and what role I want to have in it. Now that I have a little of experience in an advertising environment, I became more agile in my creative process and I learned how to quickly solve day-to-day problems.
Recently, I've been also evaluating what role design has in the world and how I wish to collaborate with it. Only from working in an agency I could understand if I can see myself doing this in the future or not, how well I adapt to an office routine and if I feel satisfied or proud of the work I was developing. I dealt with clients that ranged from tabloids, political parties, media companies and broadcasters. The design in this context usually serves as an asset and media for the advertising campaign.The main function is to communicate to the viewer the brand’s message and product.
It is not uncommon for design to be attached with advertising, and therefore attract a lot of design students (like myself), as this is one of the very popular ways into the creative industry. However, there are many different kinds of agencies, with different ethos and approaches, who take different kinds of clients. From working in a place that didn’t have a limited or particularly socially engaged approach to advertising, I started to look for other agencies and studios that had a rather niched focus and clients. On my research I found a few companies that works mainly with educational and cultural institutions, NGOs, and generally social-politically aware clients.
At this point, I started seeing the design practice as an agent of change. Therefore, I’d like to invest my DPS time on gaining experience in places that communicate and support causes that I believe in, being it either via making ads, developing branding strategy, visual identity, or creating multi media content.
This has also been a great opportunity to exercise my communication skills verbally, visually and textually. Through writing, I had reflected about my journey through the WOW blog and my personal blog. Also, I had to edit my portfolio captions and tailored emails to send out to possible employers, in order to achieve a higher chance of result.
Apart from that, I learned to speak about my own work with more confidence by having to present my portfolio a couple of times to tutors and industry professionals. I’m able to present the thought process behind each project, highlighting parts that showcase the skills that I believe to me my strengths.
During my recent internship, I also had a chance to practice my communication through many meetings and project check ups, where I had to present my ideas and defend them to the rest of team at the agency. That also helped me to better receive feedback and apply it to the projects I was working on.
Parallel to this, I also began to think about my self initiated projects. One of them is the rebranding of a platform that I previously worked in with my friend called Vagina-nomics. As a team, we began rethinking the position of the platform and the public we wanted to reach. However, because of the distance and the time schedule of both of us, we weren’t able to get to started on the visuals for it, something I wish to continue in the near future, as part of my self initiated project. At this point, we wish to target a more varied audience and for that we need to rethink the way we present ourselves and our ideas. In my time in-between internships, I wish to experiment with the new approaches the platform can have in social media, strategies for raising funds and awareness, besides developing a new visual identity for Vagina-nomics new phase.
Following that I will also invest some time in December to investigate more into my thesis, through organising my research material and doing a few reports on each of them. My thesis question is “The rise of Pabllo Vittar - How LGBTQ+ culture has grown within Brazil’s conservative Social political space”. For the time being, I already got in hands two of the books in my research list and started reading one of them. Devassos no Paraíso by João Silvério Trevisan explores the story of homosexuality in Brazil from colonial until contemporary times, and gives me a good historical background to start developing my thesis. Besides that, I have also been following Pabllo’s career. I archive articles, interviews and performances he has been doing, and just overall national and international media attention he’s got in the past few months. From now on, I wish to explore gender and performance theories as well, since one of the suggestions I got from my previous CTS tutor was be careful for my thesis not to be too much of an historical approach. Some of the authors I have in mind so far are: Judith Butler, Guy Debord, Raewyn Connel and Beatriz Preciado.